Navigators are new to the United Kingdom. It came across the pond from America, but don’t let that put you off. Hailed as modern version of Scouting and Guiding it follows no religion or political path. Instead, it is an open movement that welcomes all races, religions and genders, focussing on encouraging young people to follow a moral compass.
I spoke to Jana Davidson, who with her colleagues has set up probably the first Navigators group in Wales and I asked her what that they are all about
“It’s about inspiring engaging and giving opportunity to young people. We are encouraging our members to “do the right thing.”
We talked about the scouting movement which Jana has been involved in for many years and I asked what was different between traditional Scouting/Guiding and Navigators?
“ Scouting is a great movement,” Jana explains, “but there are set rules. The same rules apply wherever one lives, but we feel there are particular needs in a rural community like ours. Navigators allows each group to set their own agenda within a framework that is more flexible and allows the young people to be fully engaged in the choices and decisions they make.”
The members, who have only been meeting since August 2019 have already got a full programme planned, including both indoor and outdoor activities.
Limited only by the imagination of the young people and the adults who guide them the children can obtain a number of badges or rewards designed around them or just elect to try out new experiences.
“Our Navigator Group is determined by the needs of our local community and so each group can be operated in a way that works for them. Environmentalism, adventure activities and being a central part of our local community are key for us.” Jana explains. Activities will involve things like Bushcraft, camping, abseiling, paintballing, Zorbing and Art and Crafts. And let’s not forget life skills.”
The new movement is also very keen to be fully inclusive, welcoming disabled young people into their accessible space at The Gateway building in Fishguard.
“ There is so much pressure to fit in these days .” Jana tells me “ We Navigators are relaxed, friendly and tolerant. We are teaching traditional values like respect and good manners. We want people to know that this is a safe place for everyone and that it’s okay to be not okay. It is okay to be you.”
“In a small rural community like ours, people know when someone is having a difficult time. We are able to support through those difficult times, as well as enjoy and celebrate the joyful times. We can take away peer pressure, so confidence grows.”
So the group meets at the Gateway Building behind the Fire Station in Fishguard. What day and what time?
“We meet on a Wednesday. The juniors (aged 6 to 10) meet from 5 to 6.30pm The seniors ( 10 to 16 ) meet from 7 til 9pm. 16 to 18-year-olds can work with us as young leaders.
Do the young people have a uniform?
“Each group can decide what to wear. Generally, we opt for tee shirts and hoodies.”
Who is running the sessions?
“ Navigators is run by a committee with myself and my husband Ben leading we are all volunteers. We already have 19 members and each member pays subs of ten pounds a month which covers basic costs like renting the room. We will be seeking funding for equipment and other things we need very soon.”
I asked Jana if there are any things that people could donate to support the new venture?
“We need tents, cooking equipment, games, play equipment, craft materials, gardening equipment, compasses, maps and ropes. We have all sorts of ideas and plans from planting up the carpark with tubs to camping out and would be really grateful for gifts. Please contact me if you think you might have anything we could use. We will be fundraising so watch out for coffee mornings and quiz nights and so much more.”
Do you have any particular events coming up?
“We will be taking part in the Remembrance Day Parade and service in Fishguard on 10th November. Prior to that October half term sees our camp in Swansea and we will be taking part in the Gateway Hub open day on Tuesday 29th October. We will be planning a sleepover before Xmas.
Next year we will be involved in a lot of community events like Soap Box Derby, Carnival, Cardboard Kayaking, Cawl Crawl and others.”
‘It’s important to be part of community. Having a sense of belonging and taking part in local things are crucial. The Navigators will be taking part in local life without a doubt.”
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone numbers: Ben: 07546800334 Jana: 07944326662
Facebook: Fishguard Navigators.